The following is a white paper on Indoor Air Quality composed by McCullough Heating and Air Conditioning. Be sure to download the reader-friendly PDF version at the bottom of this page – no sign up required.
The air we breathe has a significant impact on our health. The cleanliness of the air inside buildings, or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), is particularly important because Americans spend approximately 90% of their time inside.1 The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this topic even further, because there is growing evidence that the virus is spread through airborne particles in indoor environments.2
Commercial buildings like schools and office buildings have building code requirements, including systems to ensure an acceptable level of indoor air quality. In general, there are no such requirements for residential buildings. That leaves homeowners to decide for themselves how to address IAQ in their home.
Understanding what IAQ is, the research-backed solutions to improve it, and how to choose a quality service provider are crucial to overall health and well-being.
Why Good IAQ Is Important
The indoor air quality of any structure directly impacts the people that spend time inside of it. IAQ directly affects occupant health, comfort, and productivity.3 Poor IAQ can lead to a number of well-documented impacts, including:
- Increased allergy and asthma symptoms
- Transmission of colds, viruses, and infectious diseases
- Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
- Reduced alertness, productivity, and energy levels
When IAQ is good, it protects against negative health effects. Good IAQ means a more comfortable indoor environment, which improves focus 4, sleep, and overall quality of life.
Homeowners make many choices to ensure a healthy home environment, like keeping dishes clean, sanitizing surfaces, and vacuuming carpeted areas. Similarly, maintaining good IAQ is both proactive and preventative in a healthy home.
What kinds of things influence IAQ? Indoor air quality is most impacted by what is inside a home and how it got there. Cleaning supplies like bleach and detergents are an obvious culprit. Fragrant sprays and burning candles alter the IAQ as well, and not always favorably. Everything inside a home has an impact on indoor air quality: furniture, appliances, clothing, linens, groceries, pets, people – it all matters. The tightness of a home, or how well it is sealed from the outside, also plays an important role in the indoor environment.
“Good” indoor air quality is impossible to define by one single metric. That is because in order to have good IAQ, there must be low levels of known air contaminants, limited airborne transmission of virus, and occupants exhibit no symptoms of health concerns. Therefore, homeowners must make conscious choices to both improve the IAQ of their home, while limiting the actions that are detrimental to IAQ.